Carbone de Balmain

Nathalie Lorson created Carbone de Balmain in 2010, and it got some nice attention for bottle design at the Fifi’s, and some attention for the juice itself at the Duftstars. Kevin reviewed it recently at Now Smell This, and it was his description of it that captured my imagination. See, Poivre 23 is one of my Holy Grail scents, and it too was created by Lorson. The two perfumes share similar notes… and I did that thing that I emphatically tell everyone else not to do: blind buy. I bought it unsniffed: a 100mL, gigantic, lifetime-supply-size bottle of the stuff, with nothing but a well-written review to go on.

How’d that work out for ‘ya, you’d like to know?

Well, it’s not Poirve 23. But I didn’t expect it to be. There isn’t a hundreds-of-dollars price difference just because Le Labo has neat bottles that they write your name on. The Balmain release is an “exclusive*” release, and the formula probably cost a fraction of that used to make the super-ultra-exclusive-niche P23. Also, Carbone is an EDT, while the other is in parfum concentration. Differences I was well aware of before clicking “buy it now.

There’s vanilla, fig-leaf, pepper, vetiver—in that order. A waxy element reminds me of Bulgari Black—mostly in that it’s an “oddball vanilla.” There’s a scratchy vibe that runs through Carbone that texturally reminds me of Poivre 23, although in P23 it’s fine-grit sandpaper, while in Carbone it’s a fine-toothed hacksaw (not at all a bad thing). It’s spicy, although weightless compared to the damask density of P23, and quite dry.

I marinated in Carbone over the weekend, and found that one spritz is good, but three or four is much better. The sillage is low (1-2 feet), and the lasting power is good for an EDT.

CdB is destined to be our “Travel-to-Texas” scent, and I think it will suit it’s purpose well: interesting, yet easy to wear. Mr. Howe has given it the seal of approval.

I bought my bottle from an online discounter for a little under $50.
*sold at fewer doors than a “prestige” (mass market) release.

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18 thoughts on “Carbone de Balmain

  1. I’m glad Carbone worked out for you. It sounds nice, although I’d rather try Poivre 23 than Carbone, but that is the luxury buff in me speaking. 😉

    1. Haha, yeah, there is a vast difference between the two—but Carbone is something that I won’t feel a twinge of guilt throwing in my handbag, and keeping with me in the front of a U-Haul truck!

      Poivre 23, on the other hand, will be safely secured in a chilled cooler! 😉

    1. It’s a dangerous word…

      And something I promised myself I wouldn’t do ever again—but I knew that I wanted something bought specifically for the trip, to be associated with the trip, and it had to be easy, work for me and the hubby, etc. etc., and this sounded just right.

      Lucky me, it fits the bill! 🙂

  2. Rules are there to be broken, dear dee and we’ve all done it when we swore never again. Anyway, sounds like a perfect perfume companion for your journey down to Austin. Gotta love an oddball vanilla. Have a great trip when you go x

    1. Breaking rules is the best! Today I wore L’Heure Bleue with a fitted, fire-engine red dress. Which seems like a no-no; I feel like such a rebel!

      Oddball vanillas are appealing, Carbone being no exception— thank you so much! I think we’re going to really enjoy the adventure, although it will be nice to be done with my shipping ban (it’s only a week, but it seems like eternity).

  3. Woohoo! A successful blind buy!
    The NST review caught my eye too, and I was happy to see your review.

    I hope your move goes easy!

    1. Always a huge sigh of relief! I’m such a sucker for Kevin’s reviews—he and Gaia have gotten me into more than a few blind-buy situations… all turned out well! 🙂

  4. Ha! A little under $50 seems like an extraordinary good buy. Well done. And I like the idea of a ‘scratchy’ vibe.

    That looks like a heavy bottle. Don’t drop it on your foot, for heaven’s sake!

    1. Practically paying me to take it off their hands! LOL, but seriously, those are the ones I’m most in danger of buying, and they add up… but, since this won’t go in the cabinet, I don’t have to think about it in terms of, “does it justify the space it will occupy?”

      I love the scratchy-ness. After we get settled in Austin, decants will be sent around like it’s Christmas 😉

      It is a heavy bottle—it’s actually the same bottle as Ambre Gris, with a different cap; a real stunner. Will make my purse a lethal weapon when it’s inside…

  5. I was intrigued by this one, too, although it’s very much not my usual thing (and I haven’t tried the Le Labo). No buying unsniffed, though… well, at least not full bottles. I’ve been known to purchase unsniffed decants; sometimes that works out and sometimes not.

  6. Your story has two great elements for me – a successful blind buy and “oddball vanilla”. I love vanilla in pretty much all its forms, also in Bvlgari Black, so you have got me intrigued about this one. The other notes sounds appealing too, even allowing for the fine toothed hacksaw, not that that seems to bother you!

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